Emarosa's Bradley Walden discusses the creative risks and inspirations behind the band's 80's influenced "Peach Club" out now via Hopeless Records...
ALTWIRE: As a band originally known for more of a post-hardcore sound, to some your latest album Peach Club may certainly feel like a departure. At what point during the writing and brainstorming session for this album, did you decide it was time for a change? Was it a conscious decision from the start, or did this occur organically during the writing process?
Bradley Walden [EMAROSA]: I think for anyone who’s been paying attention this isn’t that crazy of a departure. We haven’t been a post hardcore band in a long time and I think people out of the loop like to hold onto that. This has been a very organic change and we knew this was going to be the direction when we started writing. The first song we wrote together for this album was “Givin’ Up”. We knew exactly what we were doing.
ALTWIRE: During the making of this record you described a dream of “writing without restriction” and judging by this album, you certainly accomplished that. Would you say the entire band was on board originally with the change, or was there some convincing that needed to be done?
Bradley Walden [EMAROSA]: I can’t speak for everyone else but I never wavered on wanting to go this direction. I think with the risk we were taking it was more excitement and nervousness rather than needing to be convinced. We didn’t want to make the same album twice and this felt like the right risk to take.
ALTWIRE: It seems like rock music as a genre over the last few years has undergone some interesting changes. Several bands that were known originally for more of an alternative sound (Linkin Park, Bring Me The Horizon, and more…) have branched out to explore more pop-leaning music, challenging genre ‘labels’ and fan expectations in the process. What do you feel this says about rock music and the music scene in general currently? Is the idea of “genre” dead?
Bradley Walden [EMAROSA]: I think the idea of genres is absolutely dead. Rock music has been stagnant, everything exciting in music has been happening elsewhere and I think the explorative creative types are branching out because they recognize that. There is music out there for people who don’t want to expand and evolve. That music will always be there for those people but as an artist I can’t accept living in that place of nostalgia and (to me) almost mundane artistry. If you’re not growing, changing, challenging, etc then I don’t see the point.
ALTWIRE: Speaking of Linkin Park, the reception of their last album with Chester comes to mind. Their shift to pop-music on One More Light was notorious for the strong backlash it received in some corners of the music world. Going to pop music after one of the hardest records of their careers was considered incredibly shocking. When creating Peach Club, did you fear that there was a strong possibility that fans and critics alike just ‘wouldn’t get it’? Did you fear a similar backlash?
Bradley Walden [EMAROSA]: We were well aware there would be some people climbing out from under the rocks to say their piece. Those aren’t the people we concern ourselves with. Our fans are here, stronger than ever and they made sure we knew it when they made Peach Club the #1 current alternative album. Those are who this record is for. Not the ones that try to drag us back to 2007. They’re not in the club.
ALTWIRE: The 80’s influence on this album is certainly very noticeable from the sound, down to the album art itself. Were there particular artists, albums and songs from the era that helped inspire you and served as a means of ‘getting in the vibe’ and if so, can you list some of your favorites? (Feel free to list as many/make a massive list if you want!)
Bradley Walden [EMAROSA]: I think it stems from so much of my childhood. Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Pat Benatar, Seal, the list really goes on. I let loose on this album with my younger influences. Our guitarist ER had the idea to lean into Patrick Nagel styling for the artwork so it definitely has a Duran Duran feel. I’m very happy with how it all turned out.
ALTWIRE: What was the most exciting discovery with the band (and for you as a songwriter) during the recording of Peach Club? Was there anything that truly surprised you about the journey?
Bradley Walden [EMAROSA]: I don’t know that anything surprised me but I loved being able to creative this album so unapologetically. I wasn’t concerned with other people’s thoughts or worried how it would be perceived. I was just completely engulfed in the album and let myself go creatively which is such a rare feeling.
ALTWIRE: Something I’d imagine is very exciting and daunting at the same time, is finding ways to merge this new material among your older cuts in the live set and making it fit together seamlessly in the setlist. Have you guys started to experiment with special ideas for the setlist, and if so, has this proven to be a challenge?
Bradley Walden [EMAROSA]: I think we’ve been able to blend them together nicely. As I said before the transition had been very organic so when we play older material, we definitely have the songs to blend it into our new. We’re still working on that as it’s very new but I love challenges like that.
ALTWIRE: Many bands have stuck their necks out creatively, creating records that completely changed the sonic identity of the band, thus forever impacting every album that followed from that point forward. For Radiohead it was Kid A, for Linkin Park it wasA Thousand Suns and for U2 it was Achtung Baby. Do you feel Peach Club is a musical line in the sand for Emarosa? Would you consider this the start of a bold and genre defying new era for the band?
Bradley Walden [EMAROSA]: I can’t say what the next album will sound like. When we start to write that album it’ll be from the heart the same way Peach Club was. I do believe we’ve cultivated a shift in our sound that points a direction we’re headed but anything can change. There are no rules.
ALTWIRE: Lastly, what would you like to say for anyone approaching your latest album for the first time, whether it is an existing fan or a brand new listener? Is there anything you’d like to say in closing to the music listening public?
Bradley Walden [EMAROSA]: Emarosa has changed and grown the same way a person does. Enjoy the album and the band for who/what it is. Not who/what they were.